The Department of Justice (DOJ) on March 23 filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to drop charges against two Russian companies charged as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering were among three companies, including the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and 13 Russian individuals charged in 2018 in an indictment secured by Mueller as part of an investigation into election interference from Moscow.
Prosecutors said they operated a sophisticated scheme which included the use of social media postings and campaigns aimed at spreading disinformation, dividing American public opinion and sowing discord in the electorate.
Concord is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman often referred to as “Putin’s chef” for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been hit with U.S. sanctions over Russian interference in the 2016 election and is charged alongside his company in the indictment brought by Mueller.
However, in a nine-page filing on Monday, prosecutors said that the Concord companies were intent on reaping “the benefits of the Court’s jurisdiction while positioning itself to evade any real obligations or responsibility.”
Prosecutors said they concluded that “further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security.”
The New York Times reports that the DOJ’s concerns over documents it might have to provide to Concord which may be published online also contributed to the case being dropped, with an official telling the outlet that the motion was filed to “preserve national security interests and prevent Russia from weaponizing sensitive American law enforcement information.”
The Concord companies filed a series of motions over the last two years, including to dismiss charges and to exclude certain evidence from the case. Prigozhin has also previously filed a sworn statement with the court seeking to distance himself from the alleged wrongdoing of his company.
Following the filing of the motion on March 23, Prigozhin thanked his lawyer Eric Dubelier for leading the case “to a victorious end,” and argued the prosecution’s decision means claims that Russian interfered in the 2016 race are “lies and fiction,” according to The Washington Times.
President Donald Trump also weighed in on the trial being dropped on Monday night, retweeting two tweets from other users, one of which read, “How embarrassing for Team Mueller.”
Concord Management and Consulting LLC, was due to face a criminal trial in the case in April, however this may have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.